DARA Europe is committed to giving children in Cambodia a bright future. We support programmes and initiatives to transform the lives of children in Andong, near Phnom Penh. Meet Aone, who is now growing up in a safe place.
Twelve-year-old Aone is mad about soccer. Seemingly tirelessly, he plays football with his school friends, or with neighborhood kids in one of the neighborhoods of Phnom Penh where he lives with his foster family.
“In the Netherlands, there’s a strong awareness of the positive impacts of sports on children and youngsters. Exercise is healthy, and the playful interactions with others foster mutual bonds and personal growth. For children growing up in a vulnerable neighborhood and a difficult family situation, sports can even be a life saver. In our projects in Cambodia, too, we clearly see the added value of sports”, says Tirza Voss, founder of DARA Europe.
DARA Europe, a Dutch foundation that supports the work of Cambodian NGO Stellar Child Care Organization (SCCO), is committed to breaking the cycle of poverty in Andong. DARA Europe focuses on education for children and young adults, and on practical support for the families in which they grow up. Tirza: “All activities are focused on tailormade assistance for families in need, covering areas such as education, safety, health, wellbeing, work, and income generation. We focus primarily on educational programmes, but we also address various aspects of safe and healthy living conditions, including food and sports.”
Tirza met Aone during one of her visits to Andong in 2016. “Aone’s mother collected plastic waste, selling the litter to a middleman for recycling. She couldn’t earn enough money to support Aone and herself. The SCCO team helped out with food packages.”
When his mother became seriously ill, Aone was accommodated at the SCCO shelter. The center was developed as a temporary haven for children in need, and designed as a loving and caring place to find a safe home. For Aone, a foster home was found with one of the other families that SCCO supports.
DARA Europe continues to be closely involved with Aone, Tirza explains. “SCCO makes a financial contribution to the attentive and caring family that has welcomed Aone into their lives. What’s more, thanks to donations from the Netherlands, Aone is able to attend a good school, and follow extra English classes.” In Cambodia, English tutoring significantly increases the chances of finding a good job.
SCCO’s social worker Sokun keeps an eye out, making sure that Aone gets all the support that he may need. For instance, Sokun stays in close contact with the school to organize additional educational assistance. Tirza: “As a result of the difficult times that Aone has gone through at a young age, he is falling behind in school. His classmates are much younger than him. Therefore, we are constantly looking for ways to engage him in extracurricular activities with peers, such as martial arts. He’s already a soccer champion, but who knows how much he will love karate too!”